USCIB Statement on USMCA Entry Into Force

Washington, D.C., July 1, 2020 – The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, welcomes today’s entry into force of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement, preserving and deepening the economic ties in North America and bolstering the global competitiveness of our companies and workers. The implementation of this agreement comes at a critical time of restoring certainty to U.S. industry in the North American market, as the global market is working toward recovery from the impacts of the current crisis.

The three partner countries must continue to work together to ensure effective implementation of this agreement, so that the benefits of the agreement in its updated and modernized provisions including on digital trade and customs can be realized. Over 12 million American jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico, and continuing to build on this economic relationship is important for U.S. industry for future economic growth. USCIB looks forward to a seamless transition to the new agreement.

About USCIB:
USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world, generating $5 trillion in annual revenues and employing over 11 million people worldwide. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers, and Business at OECD (known as BIAC), USCIB helps to provide business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More information is available at www.uscib.org.

Virtual ICANN Focuses on COVID-Related Domain Name System Abuse

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) held its second meeting of the year June 22-25. Due to COVID-19-related safety concerns the meeting, originally planned to take place in Malaysia, was again held virtually. USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner joined the meeting remotely, along with several USCIB members as part of ICANN’s Business Constituency (BC).

As ICANN President and CEO Goran Marby noted, the ability of the ICANN community to adapt to this challenging time represents a “testament to our shared goal of [working to ensure] the continued security, stability and resilience of the DNS [Domain Name System].” Marby also noted that protecting against DNS abuse never has been more critical since “bad actors” have exploited the pandemic.

According to Wanner, the spike in COVID-related DNS abuse was a hot topic at ICANN 68. USCIB reiterated acute concerns expressed at ICANN 66 and ICANN 67 about inaction by ICANN Org and the contracted parties in mitigating domain name system (DNS) abuse that continues to escalate by the day. The BC asserted there should be an agreed approach to implementing tools to combat such abuse that is institutionalized as a process and memorialized in contracts between ICANN and the registries and the registry/registrar agreements.

“ICANN Org continued to insist while it expects registry operators to enforce their agreements with registrars prohibiting DNS abuse, there continues to be a lack of clarity about what constitutes DNS abuse which complicates contractual enforcement,” said Wanner. “The contracted parties, in turn, underscored their commitment to combatting abuse and highlighted voluntary efforts to develop a Guide to Abuse Reporting Best Practices. By the meeting’s conclusion, there was no clear path forward, although several approaches were proposed.”

USCIB Statement on OECD’s Inclusive Framework

USCIB has issued the following statement on June 23 with regards to the OECD Inclusive Framework process:

USCIB remains committed to proactive participation in the current OECD Inclusive Framework process to achieve consensus on acceptable modifications to the international tax system to properly address the tax challenges of the digitalization of the economy.

USCIB and its member companies will continue to work diligently towards a sustainable agreement and will encourage the U.S. government to remain committed to this process.

USCIB Opposes New IP Protocols at International Telecommunication Union

USCIB submitted recommendations on June 7 regarding industry priorities to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) that advance international communications and information policies at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), as well as on matters that will be addressed at the 2020 World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-20). Most notably, USCIB’s comments expressed deep concern over the proposed “New IP protocol system,” which would be composed of a suite of protocols following a top-down design.

“We urge the U.S. government to strongly oppose this proposal,” said USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner. “The proposal would deploy new protocols that would not be compatible with standards already used by billions of devices, so it would result in fragmentation of the current operation of the internet. In fact, creation of a new protocol and network architecture in the ITU is likely to create the same kinds of interoperability problems that the proposals ostensibly want to avoid.”

Another concern is that use cases envisioned by said protocol are not sufficiently developed to be standardized by the ITU. The proposals aimed at developing a new IP protocol system should remain within the realm of research where they can see experimentation and measurement, rather than moving precipitously to standards that industry is expected to implement. Additional concerns outlined in USCIB’s comments are past failures of similar type of monolithic top-down architectures and the fact that many of the challenges identified in the “New IP protocol system” have been addressed or are currently being addressed.

“In our view, it is not the ITU’s role to impose a single technology or approach on a global scale,” added Wanner. “To reiterate, we urge the U.S. Government to strongly oppose resolutions supporting a New IP. Other parties involved in standardization share our concerns.”

USCIB is committed to working with the U.S. Government to identify opportunities for constructive engagement that helps to advance U.S. policy objectives. In its recommendations, USCIB emphasized that inputs of all stakeholders produce a flexible policy environment critical to empowering the rapidly evolving digital economy; stakeholder inclusion can lower the risk of unintended consequences and increase legitimacy and adoption of policies. The turbulent economic and political backdrop caused by the COVID-19 pandemic makes such multistakeholder participation even more important to ensure that Internet policy remains grounded in sound commercial, technical, and human rights-related expertise.

Other recommendations outlined by USCIB included the need to ensure a resilient, secure and diverse 5G supply chain.

To view USCIB’s comprehensive comments and recommendations, please click here.

Global Industry Urges G20 to Promote Innovation, Digital Tech, Trade

USCIB joined a global group of like-minded industry and trade associations to urge the G20 to work with industry to encourage the open markets and accelerated technology adoption that will drive groundbreaking innovations and creative solutions, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter states: “This will require reaffirmed commitments to reject protectionism, support rules-based multilateral organizations, best practices, processes, and obligations, embrace transparency in legislative and regulatory actions, and invest in the workforce. Such commitments should be taken with a view to prioritizing the enhancement and generation of business opportunities for micro, small, and medium size enterprises (MSMEs) and continued advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a means of ensuring inclusive recovery across economies.

In general, the global industry group welcomes the renewed discussion at the G20 this year on the role of digital technologies in promoting economic growth through cross-border innovation and trade. As such, the group recommended several actions including facilitating a global response to the COVID-19 outbreak, advancing global date free flows with trust (DFFT), promoting cross-border innovation and adoption of new technologies, as well as ensuring the benefits of technology are realized by all.

According to the industry group, G20 2019 was a groundbreaking year for the advancement of global digital policy discussions. Under Japan’s leadership, the G20 launched the Osaka Track to accelerate and support the ongoing digital trade discussions at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and created the concept of Data Free Flows with Trust (DFFT) in recognition of the fact that open cross-border data flows are the lifeblood of all industries, and that strong protections for privacy and cybersecurity go hand-in-hand with the transparent, non-discriminatory transfer of data across borders. G20 2020 offers governments the opportunity to advance this work towards an open, inclusive vision of the modern global economy.

OECD Digital Economy Policy Group Discusses Data Governance, Privacy Amid COVID-19

The OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) and one of its working parties held virtual meetings April 21-23 against the uncertain global backdrop caused by the COVID-19 virus. USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner participated.

By necessity, the normally week-long meetings were streamlined, focusing on only a few items pertaining to data governance and privacy as well as pursuing “alignment and agreement” on the 2021-22 CDEP Program of Work and Budget. These meetings were preceded by webinars on April 15 and April 17, which focused on (1) “Data Governance and Privacy Challenges in the Fight Against COVID-19” and (2) data portability, respectively.

“Not surprisingly, discussions in the data portability webinar and CDEP meetings repeatedly circled back to the appropriate use of digital technologies and data to address COVID mitigation and recovery,” said Wanner.

According to Wanner, CDEP’s consideration of the 2021-2022 Program of Work and Budget featured numerous government interventions noting the importance of addressing COVID-mitigation in the near term, but urging the CDEP to view the COVID-19 crisis through a wider lens in the medium term and consider how technologies and data may be galvanized to address future global crises.

“The CDEP’s focus should be on [the role of data and digital technologies in] crisis management, in general, since the next global crisis may not be health-related,” the European Commission representative urged; the U.S. Government concurred.

Under the auspices of Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB members stepped up in both workshops and in the CDEP meetings to provide expert commentary that detailed how they are endeavoring to develop privacy-respecting COVID solutions. In BIAC’s PWB intervention, BIAC CDEP Co-Chair Makoto Yokozawa echoed the theme of government interventions, encouraging OECD current and future work-streams to consider lessons learned from the pandemic about the use of data and digital technologies.

One example was USCIB members’ Apple and Google application programming interfaces to make it possible to trace COVID transmission. Importantly, the venture addresses many of the issues identified by the data regulators as necessary to build public trust and safeguard privacy protections. For more information on this joint venture, please click here.

USCIB member Microsoft’s Carolyn Nguyen intervened on behalf of BIAC. Addressing the topic at a higher level, she cautioned the OECD to avoid policy siloing in developing COVID-19 policy recommendations, urging a holistic, cross-committee/cross-sectional approach as was used for the Going Digital project. Nguyen further underscored the importance of public-private partnership and voluntary and responsible data sharing in enabling rapid response. She also suggested that the OECD’s review of the 2013 Privacy Guidelines review and the Enhanced Access and Sharing of Data (EASD) initiative should take the Covid-19 experience into consideration before going forward.

“It’s clear that technology can and must play a part in creating the environment in which we can safely and carefully begin to return to work and re-open businesses. It also is clear that any solution needs to be approved by elected officials, designed with strong privacy protections in mind, include clear and transparent communications with citizens, and only be used to address public health needs,” said Nguyen.

Nguyen further noted Microsoft’s efforts to build privacy compliance into its tools and services has made it easier for the organizations that it supports to focus their efforts on advancing their missions of combating the pandemic. For example, she noted that Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot is being used to build COVID-19 self-assessment tools by organizations around the world, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

USCIB Comments on Negotiating Objectives for a US-Kenya Trade Agreement

Following the Administration’s recent notice to Congress that it is going to enter into negotiations with the Republic of Kenya for a U.S.-Kenya trade agreement, USCIB submitted comments on April 28 to offer its input on negotiating objectives.

USCIB’s comments offered support for a negotiation of a comprehensive trade agreement with Kenya as part of a broader strategy to open international markets for U.S. companies and remove barriers and unfair trade practices in support of economic growth and job creation.

“We strongly believe that free trade with Kenya is overwhelmingly in the interests of both countries and their global trading partners, provided that the agreement is a high standard and comprehensive bilateral trade and investment agreement,” said USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl.

According to USCIB, reaching an agreement with Kenya is important for the United States because this would be the first trade agreement with a Sub-Saharan African country.

“Beyond Kenya, the Administration should continue ambitions to initiate trade negotiations with other African partners,” added Hampl.

USCIB stressed that a successful trade agreement with Kenya should be negotiated as a single, comprehensive agreement which covers comprehensive market access and national treatment for goods, services, investment and government procurement, and also addresses key rules issues as well.

Beyond Kenya, a high standard U.S.-Kenya FTA could serve as a benchmark for the further negotiation and implementation of the broader African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), parts of which entered into force in May 2019, and is viewed as a great step forward for African trade modernization.

Information, Communications and Technology

Trends and Challenges Facing the ICT Sector:

  • The digital transformation of the economy affecting areas from trade to tax to labor as well as emerging technologies such as AI, IoT and Blockchain
  • The efforts of some UN Security Council members to bring governance of the Internet, management of the domain names system and cybersecurity norms and regulations under the purview of the UN and other intergovernmental forums
  • Privacy regulations that prove overly burdensome to business operations or hamper innovation

 

USCIB’s Response:

  • ICT Policy Committee’s 2020 Goals and Objectives
  • Works actively on ITU and Internet Governance issues through two newly created task forces that focus specifically on those topics
  • Proactively shape the development of the OECD’s Going Digital Project and ensure consistencies with G20/B20 work on the digital economy
  • Advocate a multi-stakeholder model to manage Internet-related issues and to enable business to play a leading role promoting policies aimed at ensuring the safety, security, stability and resilience of the online ecosystem
  • Support approaches aimed at regulatory interoperability by meeting with USG officials to elevate the Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system and to raise support for the joint work of the APEC Data Privacy Subgroup and the European Commission on certification of international data transfers

Magnifying Your Voice with USCIB:

  • USCIB is the only U.S. business association formally affiliated with the world’s three largest business organizations where we work with business leaders across the globe to extend our reach to influence policymakers in key international markets to American business
  • Build consensus with like-minded industry peers and participate in off-the-record briefings with policymakers both home and abroad.

Positions and Statements

USCIB Statement on USMCA Entry Into Force (7/1/2020) - The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, welcomes today’s entry into force
USCIB Statement on OECD’s Inclusive Framework (6/23/2020) - USCIB has issued a statement on June 23 with regards to the OECD Inclusive Framework process:

Read More

 

News Stories

Virtual ICANN Focuses on COVID-Related Domain Name System Abuse (6/29/2020) - The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) held its second meeting of the year June 22-25. Due to
USCIB Opposes New IP Protocols at International Telecommunication Union (6/11/2020) - USCIB submitted recommendations on June 7 regarding industry priorities to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s

Read More

Press Releases

USCIB Statement on USMCA Entry Into Force (7/1/2020) - The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, welcomes today’s entry into force
USCIB Applauds Approval of OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence (5/22/2019) - USCIB applauds the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) approval on May 22 of the OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence

Read More

Op-Eds and Speeches

Hampl Gives Testimony on US-UK Trade Agreement (1/29/2019) - Following USCIB’s submission on January 16 to USTR regarding negotiating objectives for a U.S.-UK Trade Agreement, USCIB Senior Director for
USCIB Op-Ed: Time for Some ‘Tough Love’ at the UN (5/2/2017) - USCIB President Peter Robinson, writing in The Hill, urges U.S. officials to help the United Nations focus its efforts and

Read More

Chair

Ellen Blackler
Vice President, Global Public Policy
The Walt Disney Company

ITU Task Force Leadership

Amy Alvarez
AVP – International External & Regulatory Affairs
AT&T

Christopher Wilson
Senior Manager, Public Policy
Amazon

Internet Governance Task Force Leadership

Flavia Alves
Head of International Institutions & Relations
Facebook

Ben Wallis
Regulatory Policy Analyst
Microsoft Corporation

Staff

Barbara Wanner
Vice President, ICT Policy
202-617-3155 or bwanner@uscib.org

Erin Breitenbucher
Senior Policy and Program Associate, Washington
202-682-7465 or ebreitenbucher@uscib.org

 

Virtual ICANN Meeting Focuses on Domain Name System Abuse

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) held its first virtual meeting, March 7-12. The week-long meeting was originally scheduled to take place in Cancun, Mexico and gather thousands of participants. According to USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner, who participated virtually, “Although the virtual format did not enable the face-to-face engagement that constitutes the ‘ICANN DNA,’ in ICANN President Goran Marby’s words, ICANN 67 nevertheless enabled the stakeholder community to engage in discussions on a prioritized set of domain names system (DNS) issues and move forward current work-streams.”

In particular, ICANN’s Business Constituency (BC), of which Wanner serves as representative to the Commercial Stakeholder Group (CSG) and which also includes several USCIB members, reiterated acute concerns expressed at ICANN 66 about inaction by ICANN Org and the contracted parties in mitigating domain name system (DNS) abuse that escalates by the day. ICANN insisted that it expects registry operators to enforce their agreements with registrars prohibiting DNS abuse, but current contractual language does not enable it to “enforce this expectation.”

By the meeting’s end, ICANN Compliance had agreed to facilitate dialogue between the BC and registries/registrars about possible contractual amendments or other mechanisms that would better enable the contracted parties and ICANN to go after the chronic bad actors, estimated to be between fifteen and twenty.

Also related to DNS Abuse, members of the Commercial Stakeholders Group (CSG) pressed ICANN to resume implementation of the policy outcomes of the Working Group for Privacy and Proxy Services Accreditation Issues (PPSAI). ICANN suspended this work on grounds that it needed to determine how the Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) relating to publication of DNS registration data  would affect the PPSAI’s previous work. In the meantime, as several CSG members noted, bad actors have been abusing proxy services offered by registrars, which originally were designed to protect the privacy of legitimate domain name users.

Finally, the ICANN community had many questions for members of the ICANN Board about their role in vetting the Public Interest Registry’s (PIR) sale to private equity firm Ethos Capital. The $1.135 billion deal would put a for-profit company in charge of a domain (.org) that generally has been assigned to non-profit entities.

News Stories Related to COVID-19

G20 Trade Ministers Release Statement on COVID-19

The G20 Trade Ministers met virtually on March 30 amid the COVID-19 pandemic to discuss stepping up cooperation and coordination to protect human life and lay the foundations for a strong economic recovery and a sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth after the crisis. Following the meeting, the Trade Ministers posted a statement.

The statement emphasized: “As we fight the pandemic both individually and collectively and seek to mitigate its impacts on international trade and investment, we will continue to work together to deliver a free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep our markets open.”

USCIB Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan noted the significance of all G20 members being able to agree on this statement as a much-needed coordinated response to the crisis and is hopeful that governments will soon follow up with more specific action items they will implement to keep trade open and facilitate the flow of essential goods for dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

In advance of the G20 Trade Ministers meeting, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) sent a letter from its Secretary General John Denton, which included ten concrete actions that trade ministers can take now to speed up the health response for COVID-19 and minimize the economic damage.  It also included points on the need to maintain momentum on World Trade Organization (WTO) reform and e-commerce negotiations.

USCIB Concerned Over Draft “Buy American” Executive Order

USCIB joined a broad group of national trade associations, as well as state and local organizations, to send a letter to U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Steven T. Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Wilbur Ross and the National Economic Council’s Lawrence Kudlow expressing concern over the Administration’s draft “Buy American” executive order.

The group believes that such an order could be counterproductive in the Administration’s ongoing efforts with American allies to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and warns that the order may delay the discovery of a COVID-19 vaccine and other treatments, worsen shortages of critically-needed medicines and medical products, and undermine prospects for economic recovery.

The letter states: “Now more than ever, U.S. industries require access to international supply chains to produce critically-needed medical products. The United States simply does not produce all of the raw materials or intermediate goods that are essential to drug development or production of the medical equipment needed to thwart this pandemic. Preventing federal agencies from sourcing medical equipment and pharmaceutical ingredients from abroad — or that are made with non U.S. inputs — would only exacerbate the supply shortages racking the United States.”

The coalition also applauded the Administration’s focused response to the pandemic and emphasized that American companies will do whatever it takes to support America’s pandemic response and will continue to work hand in glove with government to get the job done.

Coronavirus Impact on ATA Carnet in the United States

USCIB, as the national guaranteeing and issuing association in the U.S. for ATA Carnets, along with our service providers, Boomerang Carnets and Roanoke, have been watching with concern reports of the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its potential impact to ATA Carnet holders and the business community at large.

In our role as an advocate for global trade and a passionate supporter of its importance to growth and prosperity, USCIB believes that every effort should be made to balance legitimate health and safety concerns with the imperative to actively support the free flow of goods and services across borders.  In that spirit, we will work with Foreign National Guaranteeing Associations and National Customs Administrations to attempt to mitigate any ATA Carnet claims for U.S. issued Carnets that are caused by restrictions in the country of re-exportation due to the virus.

USCIB has been in contact with China Customs and have received their support on dealing with any future claims on U.S. issued Carnets. At the same time, USCIB also plans to work with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) in efforts to help mitigate any Chinese Carnets impacted by the virus on re-exportation from the U.S.  It is important to note, however, that all holders should keep as much documentation (e.g. airline ticket cancellations/rebookings, hotel reservation extension etc..) as possible to support their case.

ICC, B20, World Health Organization Call for Coordinated Global Response to COVID-19

In a collective call to action ahead of this week’s virtual G20 Summit, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Business Twenty (B20) and the World Health Organization (WHO), have set out proposed measures to enable a coordinated global response to effectively contain the potential human and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an open letter to G20 heads of state and government, issued on March 23, the three organizations underscored the vital role of the G20 in stemming the growing human and economic costs of the current crisis.

“We reiterate our firm view that only effective global cooperation can contain the potential human and economic toll of COVID-19. The limits of inward-looking policies are already patently clear,” the letter states.

Measures outlined in the letter for immediate action are:

  • To ensure infection control and medical products reach the hands of those who need them the most;
  • To use the private sector to help meet the need for testing and related reporting;
  • To ensure equitable access and affordability of essential medical supplies and health services; and
  • To scale financial assistance to ensure no-one is left behind in dealing with potential effects of COVID-19.

The letter also calls for a G20 pledge to work together to mitigate economic damages incurred by the pandemic, prioritizing urgent stimulus and safeguard measures to support MSMEs and avoid rampant unemployment.